Tags:
  1. Lili.A.Pemberton

    Lili.A.Pemberton Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2020
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    92

    Bad Beta Reading Experiences?

    Discussion in 'Revision and Editing' started by Lili.A.Pemberton, Jan 4, 2022.

    I know there's an earlier, "Any critiques to your story you disagreed with?" thread, but is there any beta/critique services you offered in which you kind of wanted to strangle the author?

    Recently, I've been offering my beta services to someone I met on another website, and I want to say I spent an hour or two detailing my critiques, what I thought was wrong, what I thought they could do better... Only for them to in the next 24 hours come up with a new draft that addresses ONLY ONE of the MANY problems I pointed out, ignoring every other critique and adjusting a problem in this ONE scene, and ask if it's better. Nothing much has changed except for flavor text and a couple of scenes. Somehow, in the newest draft the author sent to me, they'd gone back and reverted back to having problems I pointed out in the first draft, which was gone the second draft, and then somehow came back in the third draft.

    I know an author's work is precious is them and not all beta readers are correct, but suffice to say, I'm not betaing for this person anymore.

    Has anyone gone through anything similar?
     
    CoyoteKing and MartinM like this.
  2. Bruce Johnson

    Bruce Johnson Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2021
    Messages:
    756
    Likes Received:
    509
    What's the difference between beta reading services and developmental editing? Is a beta reading service an iterative process? I always thought a beta reader read it maybe once, provided their feedback and that was it.
     
  3. Lili.A.Pemberton

    Lili.A.Pemberton Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2020
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    92
    Honestly, I don't know the difference myself. I met the guy on the r/beta subreddit so I just call it beta reading. After my first read, I said I'd be happy to look at it again once he had the kinks worked out because I thought it'd be the polite thing to do, and then he sent me another draft straight away, so I just thought, "I guess this is happening?" Learned from that mistake.

    Guess I should just clarify the title from "bad beta read experience" to "bad giving advice/critique to authors experience". Something like that.
     
  4. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    6,822
    Likes Received:
    8,092
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    You did your part, your job is done. Not that it was a job, but you know what I mean. Now the ball is in his court.

    There's an aspect to this though that I don't see discussed anywhere—often people will initially reject critique because they get their feelings hurt, but after some time they'll take it to heart. They usually won't admit it once they've reacted poorly, it would be a loss of pride, but I've seen people flip over the long term. And I understand it because I've done it myself a few times.

    I've also given advice that was rejected, sometimes angrily, and then a month or so later it became clear they're actually doing what I suggested, though they won't admit to it. It's tricky, you have to take people's feelings into account, and you never know what's gonna set them off.
     
  5. Catriona Grace

    Catriona Grace Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2021
    Messages:
    1,753
    Likes Received:
    1,781
    I did a beta for a guy who sent me several pages of instructions re: how he thought I should approach reading and commentary of what was his first attempt at writing a novel. I sent him the critique and mentioned that I was looking forward to seeing the next draft. He was totally affronted by the notion of a second draft. The novel was done and was, in his opinion, all but perfect.
     
  6. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    4,512
    Likes Received:
    3,581
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I've had some very grateful authors that I beta read for and some that seemed annoyed at what I was pointing out. One story I critiqued I couldn't seem to get the author to understand their male characters sounded like females - men don't ask each other to talk about their feelings over a cup a tea. Also I tried to explain that she was taking the feminist bit too far. She would not write her character doing anything domestic which made her character look lazy and the man overachieving. A man cooking is somehow still seen as some hot feminist take when it seemed even dated by Who's the Boss terms. If the man is a P.I. disarming bombs the least the woman could do is fry him a hamburger.

    Another got very agitated when I tried to explain how to tie his themes together - there was a robot (with a female persona) and an overbearing mother. I suggested that the theme should be rectifying the fact that the mc was using the robot to replace the mother figure. He said that was too complicated to incorporate. I tried to explain how it would give the mc some depth and give motivation for the action rather than have it so episodic. Nope.

    My thing is, ultimately, it's their story and you can only give advice and or opinion. It's up to them what they do with it.
     
  7. Joe_Hall

    Joe_Hall Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2021
    Messages:
    208
    Likes Received:
    210
    I'll still do beta reads but I'm probably going to be pretty selective about it. My last one was a little over a year ago during lock down and in retrospect I should have known better. The lady who wrote it, in our communications, always said things like "everyone loves my prose" or "I just always find the words to tell exactly what my characters are thinking". I read it and let's say...she probably would not have passed elementary grammar. I figured what the hell and slogged through it anyway, making copious notes. Throughout the process, she would send me messages every other day asking how it was going and if I liked it (big red flag). I finally sent her my notes, giving praise where it was good but breaking down the things she could do to improve. The last communication I got from her was her telling me to do something inappropriate with myself, then I was blocked. The moral of the story: don't beta read for anyone who self-praises their ability or asks constantly if you like it. They are looking for affirmation, not constructive feedback.
     
  8. B.E. Nugent

    B.E. Nugent Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2020
    Messages:
    551
    Likes Received:
    625
    I'm not inclined to call what I feedback "Beta", because, to me, that suggests a level of expertise and informed opinion that I'm not qualified to impart. I don't know what works, what will advance a piece of writing to publication, but I can give feedback as a reader on those things that strike me both positively and negatively when reading. Generally, my comments seem to be received politely, certainly nothing reactionary has come my way.

    My worst experience with Beta was where I sent a piece of about 12k words to someone for feedback. It's a piece that I fully acknowledge is probably unpublishable, wordy, disjointed with an unhealthy fixation on some of the more unpleasant bodily functions. And yet, it's still my favourite thing that I've written, but maybe just for me. I picked up on an imagined slight in the feedback and went off on one, taking umbrage and venting in return. So, my worst experience with Beta, unfortunately, was where I was the complete wanker. I did settle a bit and issued an apology that I hope was received as sincere and did receive an acceptance of that apology. Big learning for me though.

    Writing and putting it in another person's hands is like stripping naked in front of a stranger. Uncomfortable whatever way, but callouses develop and one learns to deal with it. The bad reaction to feedback is surely part of most writers' process, something they will need to manage if they are to continue writing.
     
  9. MartinM

    MartinM Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2020
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    92
    @Lili.A.Pemberton

    What a great thread and insightful feedback. I cannot offer any added value here as I’m a complete amateur but would be interested in any one’s thoughts. I’ve a novel I’m building had the wife read a draft and a couple of friends also. Unfortunately, this group find it extremely hard to criticize. The wife is getting much better at this in all sorts of areas.

    Using this forum, I’ve had three parts reviewed at different times. In all honesty the feedback was phenomenally helpful. I wanted a bloodbath and fully expected posts I’d disagree with. I pride myself in general being able to look at problems and issues from other people’s points of view. It’s a really hard skill to do relying on deflating one’s ego and understanding another’s wants and needs. The first want is a tick so they can show their own piece in the workshop. This is small, but worth taking into account when they admit to only reading the first few paragraphs.

    The reviews were truly amazing. I must have read and re-read a single piece hundreds of times, and yet they’d spot something that was blindingly obvious. I knew I could not see the story for the words. Even the things I didn’t agree with, I tried to look at it from that reviewers POV. It made me make some tweaks that looked better...

    This was/is exhausting, with motivation dropping thinking what the rest of the novel needed? However, it was never a snap at the reviewer. I’ve noticed on many occasions here, where authors try to stand and defend their work. This is a huge issue, excepting that someone does not like or understand your work must be part and parcel of the trade.

    My issue now is one of embarrassment. I’ve three chapters of an eight-chapter story having been looked over, and need more. I’ve donated to the site, but don’t feel it appropriate to keep pushing out further parts for review. I need a beta reader, a brutal beta reader. I believe this is fully needed before ever thinking about an editor, but I wouldn’t expect this to be done for free.

    On my initial inquiries I’m little confused on the service provided. So, a novel 100k word count what do I actually get you to do? Apparently, there’s a grammar and sentence feedback. Then there is another service that actually looks at the story structure itself. The USD amounts do add up, and to be fair you’d earn it reading my garbage. At just this stage an outlay of USD2k – 4k seems normal. For the editing it climbs to USD8k. Am I right here or in the ball park? It would make sense why so many self-published works have some horrible errors in them.

    For me, your OP is right their work is precious but the inability to see criticism is a fatal flaw. @jannert opening line was your story starts here... It floored me, but by God she was right.

    Sorry for the ramble

    MartinM
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022 at 2:07 PM
    B.E. Nugent, evild4ve and Earp like this.
  10. evild4ve

    evild4ve Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2021
    Messages:
    399
    Likes Received:
    428
    I feel there's a strong element of horses for courses here. $8k on editing wouldn't be a good investment for someone's first novel, if it's pre-submission, or self-published. Using someone a bit cheaper, or a succession of different volunteers, wouldn't have a massive effect on a first novel's chances of making money (sadly). And unless the style is super-turgid, it shouldn't take more than a week of someone's time to read 100k words and make some useful comments on each chapter. How much do we think beta-readers should earn a year, given it's probably a side-hustle and might not be efficiently tax-collected?

    Also what about the collaboration thread? It has some requirements to post but I'm not sure what they are.
     
    B.E. Nugent and MartinM like this.
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    19,771
    Likes Received:
    22,988
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    as someone who self publishes i generally pay about £700-1000 sterling for editing (thats about 1-1.5k usd i think) 8k would be crazy.

    Traditionally published authors shouldnt be paying for editting at all - that's part of what the publisher does in return for most of the royalty... although that said it may be necessary to have a structural edit on your book in order to get an agent and then a book deal in the first place.

    Personally i wouldn't pay a beta reader anything... if i use them its usually an exchange of services...
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022 at 3:04 PM
    MartinM likes this.
  12. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    19,771
    Likes Received:
    22,988
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    Collaboration forum requires you to have fullfilled your workshop requirements of 2 for 1 crit etc, and also to have been a member for a month and to have made 20 posts (it used to be three months and 100 posts but we reduced it a year or so back)

    Point of note is that the collab board is a no money changing hands environment... people should either be trading services, or just doing it for goodwill...offering or requesting payment (and that includes royalty shares etc) will get you banned so don't do that
     
    MartinM likes this.
  13. evild4ve

    evild4ve Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2021
    Messages:
    399
    Likes Received:
    428
    Useful to know - thanks! The rules post and FAQ still say 90 days and they mention selling is banned, but not offering payment - I'm conscious not everything's always editable from within a forum though, or that they might have been hard-coded into the site
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    19,771
    Likes Received:
    22,988
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    I'll check - the change may not have been actioned... however its something i can action

    ETA I checked in the back end and this is the sitch

    New members can view the collab forum but not post in it

    members and above (that is more than 14 days and 20 posts) and post threads and replies in the collab forum

    and senior members and up (6 months and 250 posts) can also add attachments.

    I'll edit the rules and faqs to be consistent
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022 at 2:47 PM
    MartinM likes this.
  15. Robert Musil

    Robert Musil Comparativist Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    996
    Likes Received:
    1,078
    Location:
    USA
    I hope you mean 1-1.5 thousand usd. Unless inflation over there has gone even crazier than it has here.
     
  16. MartinM

    MartinM Member

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2020
    Messages:
    97
    Likes Received:
    92
    @evild4ve

    Yes, your words make real sense here. I know full well I need a STYLE and GRAMMAR beta reader. Also, I need someone to then read the thing. They are two independent tasks, I know poor wordsmanship kills the story. The novel I’m not expecting it to earn money, but would die of embarrassment if friends bought it and the first feedback was the grammar...!

    I genuinely don’t mind a little inward investment that pays back useful dividends. Delivering a better product. This is the OP problem with the client. The client with instant feedback shows full well he hasn’t taken in the advice. He’s not listening but defending.

    The Patent Bridge Race (5,600) | Creative Writing Forums - Writing Help, Writing Workshops, & Writing Community

    The link above is to one of my workshop posts. Don’t read my story for God’s sake, but instead scroll down to @jannert reply. I actually asked her to look at it. Her reply was she knew nothing on the subject of warfare but would give it a go…

    And this OP’s client misses the gold. All the reviews are good, but this one was like a lightning strike. Its frightening the effort and time I did on the re-work. Motivation wise it was a killer, knowing full well this was needed in all my other chapters. We’ve spoke about this in another thread...

    Here’s the thing I would say to the OP, I knew what to expect from @jannert. I imagine employing a Beta reader must involve some back and forth first. What both you and he expect, and outcome. The OPs client was surprised, this too must be reviewed by the OP.

    I’m not sure what you mean on the collaboration thread, not workshop right? Maybe it’s worth donating considerably more to the site and continue with the reviews?

    Would thank @big soft moose for his comments and actual prices. It does help enormously in the next stages of my hobby...

    MartinM
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2022 at 3:12 PM
  17. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    6,822
    Likes Received:
    8,092
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    It's not a thread, it's a whole forum: Collaboration
     
    MartinM likes this.
  18. Cress Albane

    Cress Albane Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2021
    Messages:
    144
    Likes Received:
    138
    Glad someone mentioned that. This fact was what kept me from sharing my writing with anyone for... Well, ever since I started writing. And that was a long time ago.

    Unfortunately, I've never had the pleasure of being a beta reader, so I can't really talk about bad experiences regarding that. HOWEVER I have been offering critiques to my brother for years and I think the words "Bad experience" certainly describe what that was like. Imagine a guy who never took 10 minutes to read a single article/book/essay/anything about writing. Then, imagine a guy who barely reads books. Now imagine that this guy thinks he can do no wrong, but still asks you to criticize his work. So you do and he gets mad you didn't like it. My personal favorite conversation was when I tried to explain to him that using r*pe as a plot device in an otherwise silly fantasy story is a bad idea.

    That's why I don't write male protagonists. My writing would create a new subreddit called r/FeminineManWritingActualMen :D
     
  19. CoyoteKing

    CoyoteKing Good Boi Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2017
    Messages:
    745
    Likes Received:
    1,473
    Location:
    Kennel
    Ooph. Yeah, I think that’s the best way to handle it— to stop critiquing for them.

    Sometimes writers and critics just don’t click. Doubtless there’s a reason they ignored your critique… maybe they didn’t understand it, or didn’t read it, or didn’t actually want it, or maybe they felt overwhelmed and couldn’t fix everything so they focused on the basic stuff, or maybe they disagreed with it but felt it was rude to argue with someone offering them help… but you won’t find out what it was.

    I’ve definitely had loads of situations where someone didn’t take my advice (which is fine! More power to ‘em) or situations where I ignored someone’s advice (because, although I appreciated their time, I thought they were wrong).
     
  20. Lili.A.Pemberton

    Lili.A.Pemberton Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2020
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    92
    Oh geez, that sounds like a literal nightmare. Thankfully, I haven't encountered as bad as that yet.
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice